Why Controlling Your Emotions Is the Key to a Successful Marriage

Why Controlling Your Emotions Is the Key to a Successful Marriage

While it is commonly held that women play the role of caretaker and peacemaker in relationships, a new study from Lian Bloch at UC Berkeley is among the first to reveal this dynamic in action over a long period of time. Participants are part of a cohort of 156 heterosexual couples in the San Francisco Bay Area whose relationships researchers have tracked since 1989.

“Bloch and fellow researchers at Berkeley and Northwestern University analyzed videotaped interactions of more than 80 middle-aged and older heterosexual couples, focusing on how they recovered from disagreements. Time and again they found that marriages in which wives quickly calmed down during disputes were ultimately shown to be the happiest, both in the short and long run…Results show that the link between the wives’ ability to control emotions and higher marital satisfaction was most evident when women used “constructive communication” to temper disagreements.”

No matter how deeply you feel something, there are effective ways to communicate and there are ineffective ways to communicate.

This does not surprise me in the least. And if it surprises you and your first reaction to this study from the most liberal university on the planet is to say, “What about men? What about when they’re angry? What about when they’re wrong? This is just further evidence of the patriarchy at work! Gaslighting! Telling women they’re crazy!” please, take a deep breath and recognize that this isn’t an opinion. This is merely what researchers have observed. Healthy marriages occur when the wife can discuss problems and suggest solutions instead of being angry and contemptuous. Fancy that.

I remember having a girlfriend who would fly off the handle at the slightest unintentional provocation. My mother even got to witness this when I flew this girlfriend to New York one November. I have no idea what I said, but you could see my girlfriend’s face tense up and a certain darkness behind her eyes before she went silent and then snapped. Pretty much every time we were together, I would say something to upset her, she’d fly off the handle, and I would either apologize or encourage her to be a little less sensitive, lest I be forced to walk on eggshells all the time. Needless to say, telling her to do that only inflamed the situation, whereby our fights would end with her screaming, crying, or abandoning me at parties, restaurants, and weddings all around Los Angeles. For awhile, I really internalized this and thought that I was a bad boyfriend. After some more life experience, I realized that I was a logical, reasonable person and that I couldn’t be held hostage by someone’s intemperate emotions. No matter how deeply you feel something, there are effective ways to communicate and there are ineffective ways to communicate.

This study shows that it’s more effective to be a problem-solver than a finger-pointer.

Want to disagree? You may – just don’t point any fingers at me for sharing this study with you. 🙂

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  1. 1

    While I don’t disagree with the findings, having been in the opposite situation (a man who would fly off the handle at just about anything) I will say anger is not an attractive emotion. Maybe women fly off the handle more, maybe women are more able to tolerate a man when he is angry but I’d prefer to not have screaming matches in general.

    1. 1.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      As I said on my Facebook page, “If you’re even tempered and your boyfriend/husband is unreasonable, then break up with him. But you can’t expect your boyfriend/husband to be reasonable if you’re flying off the handle.”

      1. 1.1.1

        Breaking up with a boyfriend is one thing but breaking up with one’s husband is an entirely different matter.

        A lot of the issues stem from rushing into a relationship and being physically intimate with someone you have not observed in various situations and with various people.   God forbid your parents, siblings or best friend mentions a red flag to you regarding your ‘one and only’ – all hell breaks loose.   Why is that?   Because your mind is clouded by the newness of the relationship and sex.

        Spouses make vows to each other that should be honoured.   Men and women both need to resolve to not have a revolving door in their bedroom.   No one in their right mind wants to be with someone who throws out, ‘l love you’ and has experienced some of life’s most wonderful joys (like having children) with a whore – whether male or female.

        Are they really your one and only or are they your for now?   Using people for entertainment is wrong even when the other party is under the impression that they are in control when they really aren’t (i.e., silly feminist women).

        Summary: Don’t shack up, break up, repeat.   If you do marry, burn your bridge and resolve to make the marriage work.   Work at it and get counseling from a couple whose marriage you admire as well as someone who actually believes in the sanctity of marriage. You’re not perfect and neither is your spouse.   You both suck at any given time.

    2. 1.2

      Everybody is capable of flying off the handle.   The chief difference between (most) men and (most) women is how long they stay “flown” and how continuously they needle their partner.

      Martin Seligman, in “Learned Optimism” refers to a great number of human behavior studies that underscore a significant difference between men and women.   When a man experiences an unpleasant emotion, he “gets over it”, often to his detriment.   By not staying with it long enough to analyze his role in creating the situation, he fails to learn from it.   On the other hand, a woman is more likely to ruminate and get “stuck” in the emotion, and focus only on the emotion, never moving past the feeling enough to evaluate what actions she took that led to it.   Both types of behavior are likely to result in the same problem occurring repeatedly.

      Seligman proposes that if nothing else, this distinction between the genders is a wonderful reason why we belong together – if we’re open-minded enough to notice what our partner is better at than we are and learn from it, then women get better at “getting over it” and men get better at learning from it.

      More recent studies have clearly demonstrated that American society, in surprisingly explicit ways, tells women that it’s normal for them to be emotionally somewhat out of control, and men not so much.   This is why the gender distinction is seen more clearly in the US than elsewhere.

      What you describe sounds like someone who moves from calm to animated at issues that are too small to deserve it, which is certainly a big problem.   But, have you done enough active listening to find out if HE thinks they’re small issues?   A small issue that arises more than a few times is no longer small.   In my experience when someone says “my partner got angry at something unimportant”, and I question the partner, it turns out that it’s not unimportant to the partner.   Be very careful about how you have decided that whether a “thing” is big or small.

      To most people, whether you roll the toilet paper over or under is not important at all.   To the person who cleans the bathroom and has to deal with the paper debris that builds up faster with “under”, it is indeed, a bigger deal.




      1. 1.2.1


        How could you not agree with the findings?   The research was done scientifically and arbitrarily.   Do you have something other than anecdotal evidence to legitimately disagree with the research, or is it just because it doesn’t agree with your current paradigm so it must be wrong???

    3. 1.3

      I’d say, more specifically, uncontrolled/un-channelled anger is really bad.

      Anger is a perfectly legitimate emotion that stems from discomfort (lack of well-being) in a given situation/context. It’s actually good and it exists for a good reason.

      It can be used as a valuable indicator that something is wrong. The correct and mature reaction is to use it as a signal to use assertiveness, which is calmly saying I want/need this or that (or do not want this or that) for my well-being, if it’s related to what another person says/does/did/etc, or taking the appropriate action to increase well-being, if it’s something within your control.

      The immature ways are to ignore it it and have it bottle up, and/or have it become an emotional outburst – which is often conflated with anger. But it actually is an “unhealthy manifestation of anger” rather than just anger itself.

      Usually men tend to internalize anger more ; and women tend to have more outbursts. Neither is healthy, the best is to just state what is up / take the appropriate action – and then be done with it.

      Either way, I’m sorry you were on the bad side of someone who didn’t handle his emotions well, it’s bad either way, and everyone should learn to healthily handle their emotions, rather than either bottle them up, or have them manifest in explosive ways. They are very precious and useful tool and this world would be better if we acknowledged them and used them more as such…

  2. 2

    How fascinating!   Thanks for sharing, @EMK.   I’m genuinely curious why it seems that a Wife’s ability to calm down is strongly correlated with happiness, while it doesn’t sound as though the Husband’s ability to do so has a strong impact.     I’d have imagined that angry, contemptuous behaviour would be equally damaging coming from either spouse and that either party trying to problem solve and be conciliatory would have an equally positive impact.   Any theories from you, or your lovely readers, regarding why this might be the case?

    1. 2.2

      I have no idea, but one possible theory could be that the only negative emotion that is acceptable for a man to display is anger.   Some women can even become attracted to a man when he flies off the handle, given the circumstances (think of Steve Carell in the 40 Year-Old Virgin).   There may even be some women who will lose respect for their husbands if they back down from them too easily.   On the contrary, this form of masculine behavior generally isn’t considered acceptable female behavior, just like crying isn’t seen as acceptable male behavior.
      Also, when I hear wives/girlfriends complaining about their husbands/boyfriends, it can be for many different reasons depending on the couple and situation.   When I hear men complain, it’s usually because they just want their wife/girlfriend to stop being such a bitch.

  3. 3

    This study makes me laugh. Thanks for sharing Evan.
    Men fly off the handle too. My brother is like that and the littlest things set him off. I think this study was biased. Of course, let’s place the success of marriages based on how women manage their emotions and not on men. Men are simply creatures who are always the epitome of serenity. NOT!
    Sorry but a healthy relationship requires BOTH partners to be able to calm down and manage their disagreements and talk things out rather then ignore issues, which I notice some of my exes have done.

    1. 3.1

      While I agree with your post 100% Paula, this is a perfect example you make. You’re getting angry instead of focusing on /the   solution. Your capital “NOT”, is you yelling inside an angry emotion, no? Of course you don’t see it that way, do you?

      1. 3.1.1

        Get the hell outta here with that nonsense.

    2. 3.2

      YES, Paula. Why should a wonan remain the picture of serenity when her man is shouting at her, wagging his finger at her and generally being abusive? Sorry. Real men take equal accountability when communicating negative emotions.

  4. 4
    All Heart

    I think it does any woman well to learn to manage her emotions and to communicate from a place that isn’t shouting. (But I do think some tears should be allowed because that’s simply something women do sometimes to relieve stress.) But all I would ask is that men not expect women to be perfect in this. We might have moments where our emotions get the best of us. As long as the moments where are emotions don’t get the best of us, don’t out weight the ones that do.
    As for why the wife’s emotional reaction may dictate the relationship’s health, I suspect it has to do with the fact that men expect women to be perfect emotionally while we don’t lay that standard as heavily on men since it’s stereotyped that men aren’t taught how to deal with their emotions like women are.  

  5. 5

    Yes, so true.   As much as I don’t want to criticize my own sex we do have the propensity to bottle up emotions and then explode like volcanoes over minor issues, or to use our emotions as weapons of control (weather we are conscious of it or not).   Yes, men can be guilty of this too, but it’s been my experience that women are more likely to act in this fashion.   There are few things more troubling than being in a relationship/friendship with someone with whom you have to walk on eggshells the entire time because you never know when the next explosion is going to occur.   I’m not surprised that marriages last longer when people can better control their emotions.

  6. 6
    Karl R

    Paula said: (#3)
    “let’s place the success of marriages based on how women manage their emotions and not on men.”
    As a man, I wish it was the other way around. I’m far calmer than my wife. If this study is correct, my ability to remain calm does little/nothing to improve the success of my marriage.
    henriette said: (#2)
    “I’d have imagined that angry, contemptuous behaviour would be equally damaging coming from either spouse and that either party trying to problem solve and be conciliatory would have an equally positive impact.   Any theories from you, or your lovely readers, regarding why this might be the case?”
    I would have thought the same as you.
    The article offers one clue for why the imbalance:
    “When wives discuss problems and suggest solutions, it helps couples deal with conflicts,” […] “Ironically, this may not work so well for husbands, who wives often criticize for leaping into problem-solving mode too quickly.”
    In part, it has to do with whether the spouse calms down and starts discussing the problem and solutions. According to the article, men and women are equally good at this. But the section quoted above suggests that it may be the other person’s response which may be the critical difference. The man will frequently get criticized for proposing solutions. The woman won’t. (From personal experiences with a few women, I would replace the word “criticized” with “yelled at.”)

    1. 6.1

      yes, I am still learning very hard not to criticise my boyfriend’s diy/handyman skills!

  7. 7

    Henriette @ 2 said “I’m genuinely curious why it seems that a Wife’s ability to calm down is strongly correlated with happiness, while it doesn’t sound as though the Husband’s ability to do so has a strong impact.     I’d have imagined that angry, contemptuous behaviour would be equally damaging coming from either spouse and that either party trying to problem solve and be conciliatory would have an equally positive impact.   Any theories from you, or your lovely readers, regarding why this might be the case?”
    Am I lovely enough to give my opinion ? 🙂
    My theory is that women might have a slight biological edge when it comes to tolerating strongly expressed anger.   See, we are biologically equipped to bear and nurture children with our bodies.   Babies tend to cry vigorously when hungry, cold, hurt, scared, etc.   I heard many years ago that women are able to tolerate the sound of babies crying more so then men.   Makes sense to me.   In fact, any woman who has ever nursed her child has probably experienced lactating at the sound of her baby crying, perhaps even the sound of someone else’s baby crying.   I know I did, I had a few embarassing incidents of my boobs shooting out milk like a squirt gun when ANY child cried.   So women are slightly biologically programmed to respond with NURTURING to human cries of distress, and then society tends to re-inforce that view. (maybe that’s where the expression “milk of human kindness” comes from)
       This is especially true of older generations.   Don’t believe it ? Watch old black and white movies.   Women were portrayed as almost robotic Stepford wives, always calm, always with the vacant smile, while the men freely expressed anger.
    However, that being said, women are not INVINCIBLE when it comes to dealing with anger.   And men are not completely incapable of being a little bit understanding when a woman is visibly stressed and trying to understand and help her.   Sometimes her stress or anger is understandable.  
    Sorry EMK, but I can’t put a whole lot of stock in this article.   People behave differently when they know their lives are being studied under a microscope.  
    Also, even if the data was collected “objectively”, it certainly wasn’t reported and interpreted that way.   I read the article and my take away was that women are more tolerant than men towards their partners outward expressions of anger.  
    But the article chose to present it as “You better watch out, you better not pout, ladies or your man won’t be happy”.   Just another warning to women that we’d better shape up or die lonely.
    As for the comments that one sex or another is more prone to strongly expressing anger.   Anger is a normal HUMAN emotion.   There is a broad spectrum of how different PEOPLE express their anger and no gender has a monopoly on flying off the handle.   I LAUGH at the suggestion that women are more prone to this, maybe because that is because I grew up with a rage-a-holic for a father.   And I observed the rage-a-holic behavior in the fathers of many of my girlfriends growing up.  
    The study seemed to scrutinize, not just “flying off the handle”, but any and all signs of anger.   Body language, voice tone & facial expressions.   It seems to me that women aren’t allowed to even FEEL anger, because when truly angry, even if TRYING to express it calmly, a flicker of it will show in the face, voice or body language.   Seems as if men can’t even deal with a woman’s best effort to remain calm.   Just know that his woman FEELS anger is something men can’t handle.   I guess to them it is a criticism.
    Another study on this blog showed that men’s self esteem went down, if some one told them their woman did well on a test.   Now this study shows that men can’t handle our emotions either.  
    What’s left for us women ?   Must we close our hearts AND minds to men ?   Is the only thing we are allowed top open to men is our legs ?   Oh no, the article about EU men said that devalues us in their eyes, and some men express in these comments section that our girly parts aren’t that special (yet they can’t seem to live with out it)
    A while back I expressed in this blog, that in my next relationship I would not express emotionally to my man, except for very superficial emotions.   Some of the men argued that, that would be a mistake.     I can’t find the thread now, but these men were saying that I was supposed to make myself vunerable and show my soft underbelly to a man.   Karl R even said so, and when I asked for an example of how he supported his wife “emotionally” he said by going grocery shopping with her.   Very sweet thing to do, but not really emotional support, that is household maintenance support, always appreciated, but that is not emotional support.
    Anyway, this article pretty much confirms for me, that deep emotional sharing is for my girlfriends.   (and many relationship experts for women recommend this)   For my next man, the most emo he’s going to see me, is me having the big O, and me telling him he is King in the bedroom.   Hopefully, I’ll pick a man who I’m compatible enough with that I won’t get angry with often enough, that I’ll be able to keep that vacant smile, calm flat voice and relaxed body language, when I serenely tell him the SOLUTION to what is fueling my (hopefully mild) anger.
    My next man is going to be about having fun, having sex, household repairs,   killing spiders.   The emotional bleeding will be for my GF’s only.   After all, that is the secret to a happy marriage.  

    1. 7.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      SE…with great respect…there is ABSOLUTELY a way to be authentic, vulnerable, and confident at the same time. If you don’t understand how that’s possible given these studies…I would highly recommend you continue in FOCUS Coaching. You seem to turn things into black/white choices. They’re not. Don’t act crazy/overly emotional. Don’t emasculate him with your accomplishments. Don’t act weak and needy as if you have no self-esteem or boundaries. That’s good life advice for all people – and I find it hard to see why you want to keep on arguing with it.

      1. 7.1.1

        EMK – I can’t find the article now, but this was NOT an article about women “emasculating” men with their accomplishments.   This was a study that showed men’s self esteem dropped when a third party told them that their woman scored in the top 10 percent of a test.   Hardly a big whoopty- doo accomplishment, and certainly nothing the woman “peacocked” before him.   One male poster even chimed in that he wasn’t surprised that men don’t like such women, because they are “ersatz men”.  
        And I saw how SIMILAR things happened in my 23 year old marriage.   My “accomplishments” are tiny and few, so there wasn’t much to “emasculate” my hubby with.   But sometimes a third party would compliment me TO him & he couldn’t handle it.   We went to my office Christmas party.   A supervisor from another department came over,   I made introductions, and she said, “I just don’t know what we do without “Emerald”, she is such a valuable employee, she’s the only one who does “task X” right.” He was clearly uncomfortable.     When we got home, he made a point to mention that he thought it was very “wierd” that she said that.   Believe me, “task X” is just some pretty mediocre clerical task.   My ex-hubbie’s job paid more, was more interesting, more prestigious and he had REAL accomplishments at his job, while I was just doing a good job at a pretty boring run of the mill clerical job.   What was I supposed to do to avoid “emasculating him ?”   Skip going to functions at my job ?   Leave him at home ?   Tell my co-workers to say that I am under performing at my job & the company is thinking of letting me go ?   Would that be enough salve for his male ego ?
        I know my last relationship has nothing to do with the next, but all these studies showing that men don’t like women who accomplish anything, even something minor, or who show a less than jolly emotion, seem to re-inforce the notion, that my ex is not some isolated case, but is a pretty typical male. Doesn’t want me to think, doesn’t want me to feel certain emotions either.  
        I never set out to emasculate him, but really he just couldn’t stand it if I had any sort of minor accomplishment, weather it was a job well done at the office, a second call back on an audition, or making people laugh at a party.  
        HE was the only person allowed to shine in that relationship.   And believe me, I learned to keep my mouth shut about ANYTHING I did that could be considered an accomplishment.   But someone else would invariably bring it up.   Some of our friends would come out to see me if I was on stage (he wouldn’t)   and then might tell him, “Hey, ‘Emerald’ was really good in that show” and I could just see him seethe.   I suppose I should have told our mutual friends to just tell my hubby I really sucked up on stage, to preserve his ego.
        Believe me, the next guy I’m with isn’t going to hear boo about my job.   (at one “man seminar” I went to, a speaker informed us that men HATE hearing about our jobs, and as much as I wanted to argue with THAT, I knew it was the truth, I LIVED it)   And unless he’s an actor, and a MORE SUCCESSFUL actor than me, I will not be encouraging my next relationship partner to come see me, if I ever perform again.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          SE, You’re extrapolating everything from your ex-husband. Huge mistake. You’re suggesting that you have to be mysterious, that you can’t be vulnerable, that he can’t celebrate your accomplishments… all wrong, all black and white, all based on your limited experience. Find a good guy who treats you well and accepts all of you. Accept him for his flaws. Express gratitude every day. It’s not much harder than that. Yet, from the tone of your emails, you seem to think that you have to contort yourself in a pretzel to please men. Not true. At all.

      2. 7.1.2

        Evan, Why does talking about our accomplishments emasculate men?   We are supposed to complement  them when they talk about theirs. Isn’t this just about ego, ego, ego?!

        1. Karmic Equation

          Why does a woman have to talk about her accomplishments at all? Since men aren’t impressed by them, talking about them doesn’t make you a better gf candidate than the next woman he dates. Unless you’re a great cook. That’s a accomplishment they adore.
          Ask yourself why you need to talk about your accomplishments at all. They don’t serve any great purpose in dating. For your career sure, but not for dating.

        2. Julia

          @Karmic seriously? Because you want to share things with your partner, that’s why. I got a job in a totally new career path yesterday, you know who the first person I told was? My boyfriend and he was happy for me. Whether he is impressed or not is irrelevant, he is happy for me because it makes me happy. That’s what a supportive partner does. If a man silently resents you for getting a promotion or landing a new job then he isn’t a good partner. We aren’t just sex kittens who listen and cook awesome food on demand. Any man who expects and only wants that out of a woman doesn’t deserve a fully developed adult female.

        3. SparklingEmerald

          I have come to the sad conclusion that men are easily bruised in the ego department without even knowing about it or even why.   Not just based on my 23 year marriage (1 marriage counselor told me my hubby felt like he was in my shadow) but numerous people have made that observation about us.   And study after study confirms what I have experienced.   I never tried to “outshine” him, I just wanted to shine in my own way & he resented it.   In fact, I always felt that in the career arena he was head and shoulders above me, I talked admiringly to him of what he did in his work and personal life, but that wasn’t enough.   I wasn’t walking 3 steps behind I guess.   It didn’t even seem deliberate on his part, his self esteem slowly eroded over the years, not because I put him down, but because I grew as a person, and people started noticing me, not as “his girlfriend, his fiancee or his wife,” but started noticing me as a person in my own right.   All these article on the internet seem to be re-inforcing that view, that men can’t handle a woman’s success.   Just HAVING success seems to be flaunting it.   They also can’t handle a woman’s mood unless it is a positive one.   These studies seem to UNCOVER these emotions in men, men are not voluntarily sharing this.   But these scientist are putting it all under a microscope, videotaping them, analyzing their voice tone, body language, heart rate, respiration.   Men aren’t purposefully being that way, they just ARE   that way. Now that I understand HOW men are, that’s how I’ll deal.   Not with how I wish they were, not what’s politically correct, etc.  
          Julia – I agree with you in principle, but I’d rather not share my “accomplishments” with my partner if it’s going to erode the partnership.   He might THINK he’s OK with it, he may even WANT to be ok with it, and he might do his own version of playing the “cool guy” with it, but I won’t hold out for that one in a million guy.   My so called “work accomplishments” aren’t much, and when I do get promotions, recognition, etc.   my co-workers all hoot and holler for me, give me high fives, etc.  

        4. Karmic Equation

          Seriously Julia. You.Need.To.Read.Slower. “GF candidate” means you’re not the gf yet. I was speaking in the dating sense. Once you’re a gf, you’re in a “relationship” and if your partner isn’t supportive of your career accomplishments, he has issues. My partners were always supportive. However, I don’t talk about my accomplishments or even my job much with dates. My job is too technical and not a lot of fun for non-technical people. Even if it were, I’d rather be asking questions on a date than being asked. I know all about me. I want to to spend the date getting the guy to open up so that I have a better sense of who he is. I don’t grill him but usually find interesting tangents to go on based on what he decides to talk about.

      3. 7.1.3
        From The Ground Up Coaching

        Applause to that! The essential key to being in a long, lasting marriage or relationship is exactly that, the ability to be authentic, vulnerable and confident at the same time. I do want to add that I believe confidance is the result of living authentically and vulnerably. Women DO emasculate men, a rising problem in many relationships. Unfortunately, so many women do it without even realizing it and therefore have no chance of discontinuing the behavior. Good post. Thanks.

        1. MJ

          Herein (emasculation) lies a major relationship problem.   Women have egos too.   There is a fine balance in being able to reciprocally pat each other on the back for accomplishments and be fair about it.      Men seem to need it more and are less willing to give it back.   And when there is an imbalance, women tend to become resentful that they are the givers and men are the takers.

          Even in situations where women are authentic, openly vulnerable and confident in themselves they still need validation just as much as men do, but seldom get acknowledgement for their work/achievements.

          So is there a word for female emasculation?

      4. 7.1.4

        I love your blog and appreciate things you say, but this was grotesquely over the line.

        “Don’t act crazy/overly emotional. Don’t emasculate him with your accomplishments. Don’t act weak and needy as if you have no self-esteem or boundaries. That’s good life advice for all people — and I find it hard to see why you want to keep on arguing with it.”

        Using the words crazy and overly emotional are gaslighting. Pure and simple. Unless someone has a genuine mental health issue and needs therapy and medication, calling a woman crazy or overly emotional is putting her down and invalidating her feelings and as someone who works with women, I’m appalled you would use that language.

        I’m even more insulted at the idea that we can emasculate men with our accomplishments??? WHAT THE LITERAL EFF. Can a man demasculate a woman with his accomplishments? Should men be forced to downplay their accomplishments so it’s not threatening to a woman? God forbid you or any person ever giving that advice. Yet women are expected to downplay our accomplishments out of fear that a man can’t handle it? How about you advise men to stop believing in long-established but sexist gender stereotypes and hierarchies? I will never diminish my hard-earned accomplishments in order to make a man feel better about himself and to suggest doing so makes me never want to read your blog again. It makes me sick to my stomach.

    2. 7.2

      I was in a LTR with someone like this, who didn’t bring his whole, true   self to the “table”. None of this is a lie and I am being so candid. When the real “man” stood up, I was heartbroken because I spent YEARS giving of myself, my time and my life to a big phony. Yes, phony bologna!
      And to be frank, it really angered me. Why? Because my “best” (which IS awesome for a wonderful, loving man) wasn’t good enough for the “real him” but it was for the FAKE him (which got me into he relationship).   It feels awful once you realize this after giving, caring, loving, supporting, encouraging and being passionate with…a ghost. Even if you “believe” in ghosts, try to hug one or have a relationship with one. It’s not of any quality substance. Please, please, please reconsider your logic. Don’t cheat yourself!
      I would rather totally put myself out there to find the most romantic, passionate, honest relationship with marriage and all the trimmings. It’s what my heart wants.
      I’m curious? How will he feel when he discovers the real you?    This wasn’t meant to be offensive. This is just what happened to me.

      1. 7.2.1

        A man doesn’t have to see ALL of me,   just what I want him to see.   Just what he wants to see.   What I show him will be real, but he doesn’t have to see it all.   Men don’t even want to see it all.   They want mystery.   Over sharing can do more harm than good.   Men don’t really want to see a woman’s tears and fears.   All they want is a sexy fun gal who makes them feel good.   I can do that.   If I need to cry and bleed, I can take that elsewhere.   He doesn’t need to see that, nor does he want to.   Mystery is what keeps a relationship alive.   Familiarity breeds contempt.

        1. marymary

          The boyfriend nursed me through food poisoning so there went the mystique!

        2. Sunflower

          I  have to say SE, as a woman I really connect with what you’re saying, however,  there is a lingering bitterness/anger emanating from your posts.   Not to pass judgment  on where you’re at emotionally right now, but what would be the point in wasting your time and emotional energy with a man you didn’t want to fully let in?    A mere stepping stone……..
          BTW, mystery is not the only thing that keeps  a relationship alive.      

        3. Sabine

          Hmmm. To me there is discretion and lying. Being polite and using discretion with “personal care” for example is one thing. Not being able to share something painful with the man you are married to seems silly. If he cannot be my go to man, I will sear) and find one who will. I want to be the same for him.
          Why commit to sharing your life with someone when you are only giving him 1/2? I’ll admit that I did so much introspection to come to this point. I read books about being better and took a spiritual look at the entire break-up and decided to learn from it to be better with the man I marry. I feel like if a man can see you vulnerable and not perfect he won’t be afraid of any surprises. Likewise, I don’t want any either.   

      2. 7.2.2

        All the scientific studies seem to point to men not being able to handle a woman with anything but happy emotions.   Even if it has NOTHING to do with him.

        1. AllHeart

          SparklingEmerald, I don’t think you sound bitter. Simply logical based on what your experience has been. And I have to tell you, I actually really agree with you.
          I think it connects to how men feel responsible for their partner’s happiness and take credit for it whether he is the source of it or not. And when she isn’t happy, he also feels responsible.
          It’s kind of a funny dynamic. Men honestly do want to make their partner happy, when they are a healthy man. Yet, they will also take credit for their partner’s happiness when he didn’t even do anything to credit whatever particular thing she is happy about and he will feel “blamed” when she isn’t happy about something that may have nothing to do with him. It’s funny and strange and it’s nice that men want to make us happy, but it’s kind of not so cool when they want to take credit for things they never had a hand in or when they don’t have the emotional capacity to understand that it’s not a woman’s job to be happy 24/7.
          In general, men do not understand their own emotional expression enough to even begin to gabble with women’s. I do think this is slowly changing though and hopefully more men will come to realize that there are way more colors in their emotional coloring box than the limited ones society allows men to play with. And that they don’t have to be afraid of that in themselves or in women as long as they learn the tools to navagiate the pitfalls.  
          I recogonize that women have a leg up in this department and I am sensitive to that when it comes to men, but I don’t settle for men that display an inability to challenege their own emotional range or improve themselves. I’ve had one too many relationships where the guy believed that he could just remain the “status que” and not work on self improvement. That usually carried to other parts of the relationship past his own emotional development.
          Personally, I think it’s high past time that men become more ardent students of their own emotional development.  

      3. 7.2.3

        I know what you are saying about “ghosts” in relationships.   I call my marriage the “phantom marriage”.
        My hubby had a year long crush on me before he mustered up the nerve to ask me out.   (he’s very shy unless he is in his usual element)   He accused me of playing “hard to get”, but honestly I didn’t notice him until he actually called me and invited me to a function of a special interest club we both belonged to.   I had no idea he was trying to get me out to meet me in person, I thought he was just someone from the club fishing for members to come out to the functions.   (I was actually doing that for another hiking club I was in, it was part of my function on the social committee)     When I finally met him IRL, I was attracted to him right away.   After we had started going out, he confessed that he had been wanting to be ask me out for a long time, but didn’t think I would like him.   (He told me as he was divorcing me that he didn’t initially ask me out because he thought I was “out of his league”.   pffffffffftttttt)
        At first I thought it was really sweet and romantic that he had been a secret admirer for so long,   but over the years it occurred to me that he had created a fantasy girlfriend in that year, and except for the looks, I wasn’t her.   And he wasn’t exactly being himself either. He was being who he thought he had to be, to impress a fantasy girl.  
        So I fell in love with a guy who was pretending to be something he wasn’t, just to please the fantasy version of me he had created.
        All of this was masked over pretty well, because we married in the “Rose colored glasses” stage, and then when we had a our child, our relationship became focused on parenting and less on each other   . . .
        When the nest emptied out, and we were left with nothing but each other, sans the rose colored glasses . . .   Well, he was pretty angry at me for not being that fantasy he created all those years ago,   and my Mr Devoted disappeared and was replaced by some raging, nagging hyper critical person.  

    3. 7.3

      Sparkling Emerald,
      I’ve found that with the majority of men, it is absolutely ok to express your feelings.   It just can’t be about blaming, criticising or making them wrong. The most effective is to express it simply and matter of factly, leaving out the word “you” as much as possible.   And you don’t want to overshare, or express constant dissatisfaction with the relationship, because that demotivates a man from wanting to please you.
      But being vulnerable, in a feminine, non-attacking  way, is VERY attractive to a man.

      1. 7.3.1

        From EMK’s FB page
        “Most male anger comes from feeling like a failure as a protector, provider, and sexual-lover. These acute vulnerabilities can be stimulated by the mere unhappiness or displeasure of his wife, even if her distress or negative states have nothing to do with him.” (quote from an article not EMK)

        So much for being “vulnerable” to a man.   Being in the same room and shedding a tear for your dying mother, or having a knitted up brow due to a work day from hell, that has NOTHING to do with HIM, and therefore is NOT AN ATTACK on him, can trigger a man’s anger.   I know we women have a greater capacity for accepting a man’s anger,   (I know I can empathize with a man who is angry “at the world, at his boss, or even me if I have really have wronged him in some way) but I have NO capacity for a man’s anger when it’s directed at me for merely feeling normal, human emotions such as sadness, anger or fear that have nothing to do with him.   So rather than trigger a man’s wrath, some stuff I just safe for my girl friends.   That’s what girl friends are for.

        1. Julia

          I agree. Don’t settle on a man who gets angry at you for having human emotions. We have complex lives, if our partner’s ego rest completely on our 100% happiness, we will never have a successful relationship. I think all this talk of tolerance for men’s anger is interesting though. I find men’s anger to be a terrifying emotion because men are much more violent than women are. I won’t tolerate a man who flies off the handle again because its simply scary for me.  
          Now that’s an interesting emotion to think about: how many men are scared of women?

      2. 7.3.2

        Clare @7.3     – Notice all the caveats, not just from you, but from everyone else with the “You can express your emotions, as long as . . .” and then what follows is a long list of   “as long as your voice is emotionless”   as long as the word “you” isn’t in there.   As long as there isn’t “blame” , blah, blah, blah.
        I took many acting classes, and if we had to act out a scene where a woman just found out her husband cheated, well, let’s put it this way, if I got up and did the whole vacant smile, matter of fact voice, serene posture and said,
        “I feel hurt when you bang my sister, how can we constructively find a solution to my hurt feelings ?”,
        I’d either flunk the class, or the teacher and other students would be rolling on the floor laughing, then the teacher would say, “OK, but now let’s do the serious version of the exercise”.
        Anyway, I am not talking so much about negotiating conflicts within the marriage, I am talking about life events that have nothing to do with the marriage, but effects one or more partner in the marriage.
        Studies seem to confirm that men can not handle complex emotions, but they do best at problem solving. So it’s not like I plan on shutting may next man out COMPLETELY when dealing with a private life event, but just giving him something he can handle.   Example, my dad is 91, so he’ll be leaving this world in the near future, perhaps quickly, perhaps after some long drawn out illness.  
        My girlfriends can hear all the girly emo stuff.   Once I get that out, if I am in a committed relationship at that point, and my man says, is there anything I can do to help ?   Well if he’s sincere, there’s PLENTY he can do to help, and he can feel good about DOING something constructive.   It will be a dual state event.   A funeral service here, fly the remains to his home state and another service there.   Estate settlement will be very complicated, I’m the executor of it, there are several rentals involved, so this won’t be a matter of just signing papers and splitting everything up among the siblings.
        LOTs of concrete solution based stuff for a man to do that would really, really be helpful and appreciated.   He could be my plus one for the instate service (he could be my plus one for the out of state service too, if willing and practical)   I suppose he could hold my hand when I shed some tears at the funeral   (tears under those circumstances seem to be acceptable to most men).
        But any thing more than that ?   Most studies and my life experiences point to   most men can’t handle strong negative emotions from their woman, EVEN IF IT HAS NOTHING TO WITH THEM.
        So, if you’ve ever watched Seinfeld, there was an episode where a girl George was dating had a family member die, and George used that funeral to step into the role of “the boyfriend”.  
        So, if I have a boyfriend when any big emotional even happens for me, he can pull boyfriend duty, with practical, hands on, solution to problems that arise.
        My girlfriends can handle all the mushy stuff.

    4. 7.4
      Karl R

      Sparkling Emerald said:

      “I can’t find the thread now, but these men were saying that I was supposed to make myself vunerable and show my soft underbelly to a man.   Karl R even said so, and when I asked for an example of how he supported his wife ’emotionally’ he said by going grocery shopping with her.   Very sweet thing to do, but not really emotional support, that is household maintenance support, always appreciated, but that is not emotional support.”

      Instead of misrepresenting what I said, perhaps you should have spent a few hours finding the original thread … or saved yourself some embarrassment and just left my name out of it.

      Sparkling Emerald, the thread you’re looking for is here (currently, it’s posts #92, #96, and #98):



      For those of you who don’t feel like sorting through the other thread:

      Karl R: Nobody should be expected to read their spouse’s mind. You’re more likely to get a need (or want) met if the person is naturally inclined to do so. But you may be surprised at the needs/wants that can be met if you ask.”

      Sparkling Emerald: “Thanks Karl, could you give me an example of a woman’s need that you didn’t know she had, that you willingly met when asked? …”

      Karl R:  Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple things my wife wanted that I was unaware of and not instinctively inclined to provide. I believe I was already aware of everything she needed.    …   Example 2:  My wife recently mentioned that she dislikes grocery shopping, but she dislikes it less if I’m along for company. This was a surprise to me, …”

      Sparkling Emerald: “Hi Karl …   Thanks for your response! …  I was mostly talking about EMOTIONAL stuff, not like help with the grocery shopping, which I consider a practical need,   but it’s nice to know that you do stuff like that for your wife.”


      Sparkling Emerald, you didn’t accurately remember what we each said (which is normal, since the two threads were several years apart).   Then you relied on your imperfect recollection to misrepresent the question you asked, and the question that I answered.

      In addition, I did not recommend that you expose your soft underbelly to your partner.   My only advice during that entire thread was: “Nobody should be expected to read their spouse’s mind. …   [and] you may be surprised at the needs/wants that can be met if you ask.”


      This isn’t the only time you’ve misquoted me.   (This one isn’t even as ugly as a few of the others.)   This is just a rare occasion where you referenced a specific thread that I could find … and therefore prove that you misquoted me.

      Do yourself a favor.   Instead of relying on your memory, go find the exact quote every time you want to repeat what someone previously said.   Not just on Evan’s blog, but everywhere.   If you continue to do this (particularly elsewhere in your life), you’ll be eventually setting yourself up for a libel lawsuit.

  8. 8

    This was fascinating! My male friend and I had this same discussion at work today. He said, “What is it with the women…” I kindly joked, “don’t throw me into the mix” since I am generally docile and try to me as even keeled as possible. The discussion was about women getting mad at other people “for no reason” and “holding grudges”. I try not to do either but will admit “future emotional caution” when dealing with certain folks.  Ironically, I wonder if he expected yelling from me? That just isn’t me…I don’t like fighting with people when I know it can be avoided. Yup, I’m a softie.
    In my last LTR, honesty was completely lacking. There was no yelling or screaming but the SILENCE or FEW WORDS that were exchanged was deafening at times. And when there was dialogue, the tone from him was worse than breaking dishes. After the LTR ended, it was a hailstorm. Surprisingly, I yelled back at his nonsense and shocked myself!  
    What did I learn from this? I go forth speaking honestly (while being considerate of others feelings) offering sincere acceptance (still working on this) because you want to be able to be honest, without the yelling and screaming and unnecessary drama. This honestly scares me because you really put yourself out there not knowing if your ideas are accepted or rejected. You discover if you are then accepted as you are.
    Based on past experiences, forgiveness with loved ones (this is NOT meant to be religious I assure you) is what should truly be in your heart when you care deeply for someone (and with these folks, it can be even tougher). I think this keeps love as pure as it can be. Remember to say, “I’m sorry.” 🙂

  9. 9
    Karl S

    I stumbled across an interesting article just here – http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/03/women-happier.aspx

    Relationship satisfaction was directly related to men’s ability to read their female partner’s positive emotions correctly. However, contrary to the researchers’ expectations, women who correctly understood that their partners were upset during the videotaped incident were much more likely to be satisfied with their relationship than if they correctly understood that their partner was happy. Also, when men understood that their female partner was angry or upset, the women reported being happier, though the men were not. The authors suggest that being empathetic to a partner’s negative emotions may feel threatening to the relationship for men but not for women.

    This helps to explain Evan’s article more. Men like it when their partners are happy. Women like it when their partners are empathetic.

  10. 10

    Both my parents constantly flew off the handle with each other, though my mother so. My mother was shrill, weak, and an emotional basketcase, and her moods made the entire household suffer, while my dad’s emotons if not always ideal were much easier to handle. Let me tell you, as a child it’s traumatic being around people who can’t control themselves. For a long time up til   I was 28, I had all kinds of issues with controlling anger and emotions and maintaining boundaries. I’ve made damn sure that I’ll be single as long as it takes to make sure I have my shit together before subjecting a whole family to that torment. Children pick up on and absorb the emotional health of the mother.

    1. 10.1

      Jenna @10 “Children pick up on and absorb the emotional health of the mother.”
      Jenna, children pick up on the emotional health of the entire household.   If a father and mother are both present in the household, children pick up on BOTH of their emotional states.
      Believe me, given my rage-a-holic father, and my anxious/depressed mother and the constant drama in my household, it is a MIRACLE that I EVER got married at all, even tho’ both marriages failed.   (neither one of my siblings ever married, which is NO SURPRISE )   It’s a miracle that my heart EVER softened up enough to consider motherhood, because I remember leaving home almost the day after I graduated HS (ditched going to college because I wanted OUT of the household) in a PANIC, just wanting to be free, and SWEARING I would NEVER trap myself in a marriage, and certainly would NEVER throw a way the key to my prison by digging in deeper by having a child.  

    2. 10.2
      Dina Strange

      Totally agree. My mother was an emotional basket case and she took it (mainly) on me. Horrible experience to say the least.

  11. 11

    I know what you mean.   I grew up with emotionally volatile parents, and a particularly volatile mother, who would fly off into unmitigated fits of rage over anything from misplaced car keys to a word said innocently out of turn.   As a sensitive child, it was sheer hell and very terrifiying. And I also battled a bit into my young adulthood with putting my moods and feelings into proper context and with knowing how to respond and communicate appropriately in a relationship.
    I worked very hard at it, and spent a long time on personal self-reflection and growth,  however, and have now been told by many guys that I’ve dated how calm and easygoing I am.   It really is worth it to learn the skill (and it is a skill) of self-calming and self-soothing to a degree and really looking at what you’re feeling on your own first, and then thinking about *how* you’re going to communicate that to someone else, before doing so.   The quality of your relationships will substantially improve, and you’ll be a happier person, less easily flustered and bothered by things.

  12. 12

    I find it much easier to stay calm as my boyfriend stays calm too and doesn’t throw coal on the fire. I’m more of a sulker than an exploder but it’s much easier to snap out of it when I know he thinks well of me, no matter what mood I’m in.     

  13. 13

    @SE 7.1.1
    Some men are better at handling the woman’s success than others. I am etremely ambitious professionally, and one of the most important reasons for wanting to marry my husband was that he full heartedly celebrated my successes and I could see that he and his family were very proud of me (and my income :-). But, as Evan says, men do not come both ways. He is far less ambitious and driven, and even though he had a few years of great professional success, he is right now unemployed.  
    Karmic said a woman should not talk to a man about her acomplishments. Well, not talking to women about them is a good strategy too, save you make them jealous or upset for their own failures. I need to quickly go call my mom, because she is the only person I am sure about will be honestly happy for me, except that lately she really is getting on my nerves asking when my husband will get a job :-).

    1. 13.1

      As often as I disagree with KE, this time I think she is right. (don’t tell men about your accomplishments) I really wish we women didn’t have hide our light under a bushel, but when it comes to my career, it’s no big whoop anyway, so I can live with that.  
      All these studies can’t be wrong.   That old saying about a way to a man’s heart . . . well yes through his tummy and one other body part.
      I can live with that, as long we have enough togetherness to sustain a relationship, but enough space so I can share and experience the things that I can’t share with him.
      Even something as mundane as sewing something for the household.   I won’t say, “Look, I’ve finished the window valences, what do you think ?”     I’ll just make ’em, put ’em up, if he voluntarily tells me “good job” then I’ll say thanks.   But I won’t solicit his opinion or “peacock” my sewing “accomplishment”.

      1. 13.1.1

        Okay, I’ll admit it, I am really, really bookish (we’ll leave it there). If a man likes you and you are NOT your accomplishments (constantly reminding him of how smart you are, etc.) it’s not a big deal (or less of a big deal).  All of the other things I offer (kindness, humor, fun conversation, great chocolate chip cookies, etc.) are what make me who I am.   These are the things that you want him to fall in love with.  
        In one of my management classes (a few years back) the topic talked about how when men are in the workplace they will discuss what they did: finish the payroll, restarted the email server, fixed the problem in New York….you get the idea.   Men want you to know what they’ve done. Likewise, a female employee may have done the same things EXCEPT she feels that since the problem is solved, everyone will know it’s solved. They will, she just will not get the full credit. As up and comers (I have since left the corporate world) we were encouraged to talk about how we contributed to “the bottom line” since chances are, we were not as outspoken as the men. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it 🙂
        I don’t like to “keep score” in a relationship. However, there is nothing wrong with saying, something important you’ve been working on is a success. I always recognize a man for a job well done. Contributions should be acknowledged and not trivialized.
        SE-BTW, please don’t put down your work accomplishments. I am quite sure you are a hard working diligent lady and you should be proud of yourself!!!

    2. 13.2
      Karmic Equation

      My job is not very interesting to non-technical people. So it’s easy to avoid talking about.

      Now that I think about it, when I talked to my SOs about my accomplishments, usually they were in the context of volleyball, as in “We won the tournament today! Look at my new sweatshirt that I won!” And because this was about sports, men are very supportive about that 🙂

      As to my career accomplishments, even with my husband, I don’t think I ever spoke about promotions in “Hey, Look at me and What I did!” I usually used words like “I’m so excited about my new position. It’s going to be so much more up my alley!” And drew him into my positive feelings about the job rather than focusing on the actual accomplishment (promotion).

      Forgot which book, maybe it was Evan’s WHD book (can’t remember, sorry, Evan!) — which mentioned that men appreciate women’s ability to experience various emotions. Men can’t / don’t experience the same spectrum of emotions and find women’s emotions fascinating as long as those emotions don’t cause undue drama in their lives. I’m very laid back. I remember my   ex-husband being extremely amused when I ranted for over an hour about a brown-nosing, lazy, credit-stealing, finger-pointing colleague (yeah it went along those lines). It was probably the only drama I ever indulged in over the course of our 11 years together. My bff (a straight male) — was also very amused when after an ONS, I OT’d about the guy and the ONS. And I had never done that before or since. So my “drama” was amusing to these guys and they were indulgent as opposed to exasperated with me since I’m low drama. With me. drama becomes funny to the men in my life. Not something they must “put up with” to have a relationship with me.

      I don’t criticize men, but I’m ok with telling them what I don’t like. One of my ex’s had a nickname for me that he thought was funny but which I hated. I said a few times, “Hey, don’t call me that, I don’t like it.” He kept doing it. Until I came up with an equally unflattering nickname for him and every time he said the nickname I didn’t like, I countered with the one he didn’t like. Once I made it into a game, I took away his fun in getting on my nerves, so he stopped. My alcoholic ex used to worry about his not making enough money to help me with he expenses. I told him flat out “It’s not your income that’s going to break us up, it’s your drinking.” I said this without rancor and very matter-of-factly, a few times over the course of the 6 yrs we were together. But with him, I’m thinking a little drama probably would have driven that point home better. Because he never got it since I didn’t make a scene about it. By the time I started making scenes, our relationship was beyond repair. So I suppose drama has it’s uses.

      1. 13.2.1

        I do think drama has some very important uses. Anger is a strong emotion, which sends a very loud sygnal to the other party that something is wrong/their behavior is unacceptable. In my work   there are a lots of negotiations, and it is very important to be controlling the messages you send, and to constantly upgrade your own ability to read people.   Sometimes it is very useful to demonstrate or even fake anger.
        At home, I  try to avoid anger  because mostly I do not want to scare the children. I very rarely raise my voice, but   my choice of words is very different when I am angry, and I think I give away all sorts of verbal cues that I am about to explode. In the 17 years with my husband (12 married),  we had a shouting match once, before we were married, and that night I left the house never intending to return. He found me in the morning, and begged on his knees for my forgiveness. I do not regret that I did what I did, it was my only option at the time, but  now, at 40, I would have known a much better way to handle the situation.
        I still feel anger and frustration and being upset when things do not work out to my taste, or when I am very tired –  I have noticed that lack of sleep for example makes me very vulnerable to negative emotions. I vent out by physical exercise – this is the thing that works best for me. I have tried to reframe situations, look for silver linings etc., but nothing works better than strenuous exercise.
        How are things with the personal trainer by the way?

  14. 14

    Long-time reader, finally de-lurking after a few years…always found the writing and debate here thought- and soul-provoking, as well as practical, honest and smart.
    This made me want to respond because expressing anger has always been a huge difficulty for me, not just in relationships but in life. I grew up with a very emotionally volatile parent whose mood swings and anger expressed itself in a lot of emotional abuse, not the least of which was blaming, relentless criticism, controlling, rages, etc. Being highly sensitive, I found this hugely traumatic and terrifying, and in my late 30s, I still grapple with this psychological legacy.
    As a result I don’t often express anger in relationships. I shut down, or sometimes I pretend everything is okay while I internalized things. I went the opposite route of my parent. I just had no way of dealing with anger except by minimizing or denying it. This made my relationships generally amiable on the surface, but since I couldn’t fully be myself, they also didn’t feel whole, authentic, intimate and give that sense of acceptance and support I longed for.   If you canvassed my exes, I’m sure they’d never complain that I flew off the handle or criticized or blamed too many times — but they’d probably say they felt I was often distant or removed, which is just as bad for intimacy, in my opinion. It was just dishonest.
    It’s taken me some time, reflection and real inner work, but I finally feel I’ve learned to “own my anger,” allow myself the full spectrum of emotions in relationships and learn to express it without causing harm to myself or others — and I’ve been in a great partnership for some time now with a kind, generous, warm, funny and yes, even-tempered man as a result. Of course, I picked someone that accepts me, warts and all. But generally he makes it easier for me to express anger in a way that’s constructively communicated. And we can often joke about our conflicts, even in the middle of them. And honestly, he doesn’t give me a lot of reasons to be angry because I am pretty easy-going in the end. I feel lucky! But it took a lot of work on my part to become an emotionally whole human being, and then learn to express those forbidden emotions in a way that was healthy for myself and for the relationship. Ultimately, to me, this is what contributes to the emotional longevity of my relationship.
    It’s tempting to read a study like this, as someone who has so gone the opposite way in terms of women/anger, and have a knee-jerk reaction like “Great, I can’t be angry, or else everything will fall apart!” or “Why is the onus on me as the woman to keep calm and carry on?!” But I think it just points to the fact that “there are effective ways to communicate and there are ineffective ways to communicate,” as EMK says, and that for the great majority of relationships, romantic and otherwise, women do set the emotional tempo and tenor, for better or for worse. (What’s that saying? If Mama ain’t happy…)
    I was actually more intrigued by the bit at the end in the article, about the age and generation of the couples observed in the study. “The middle-aged and older couples in our study grew up in a world that treated men and women very differently,” she said. “It will be interesting to see how these gender dynamics play out in younger couples.” I’m thinking this was a generation in which untrammeled anger was a much less acceptable emotion for women to express — and one in which it was more acceptable for men to express. I’m wondering if this will change in the future — not that it’s more acceptable for women to rage, blame and control, but it’s less acceptable for men as well. In relationships, I just don’t know many women — especially younger ones — who put up with unreasonably angry men anymore. Most I know just walk away — which of course ironically makes these men even angrier.
    (But no matter how gender dynamics around anger changes, I don’t think this changes the fact that it’s way better to communicate constructively and compassionately in a relationship, no matter who you are! It’s just a fascinating point to consider, and one to remember when you read this and think, “Great, another study that says it’s up to women to be conciliatory, etc!”)

    1. 14.1

      thanks for the interesting and thought-provoking post. I do believe that when Mama is happy everyone is happy, this is certainly how it is in my family. But looking at my parents and grandparents, I see different patterns. My granddad was very even-tempered, my grandma was an angry and critical woman, but they has a long and reasonably happy marriage and died last year within 3 months of each other – I think she was no longer interested in living after he was gone. My parents:  just the opposite  – my dad is short-tempered, and often angry, and my mom is sweet and kind, they have been on the verge of divorce for as long as I have known them, but they are still together.
      I try to be calm, especially because I want my kinds not too see any of the wild scandals I have witnessed (still do occasionally) between my parents.   I am still struggling with processing my anger once in a while, and I am trying to avoid criticism at all cost, because I think it is not an effective instrument for changing people’s behavior.
      Could you be so kind to share what type of inner work you did in order to “own your anger”. I am very curious what works for other people. For me – it’s mostly long jogs/ very intensive work outs at the gym that helps me get back in a good mood.
      Thanks in advance for sharing some tips.

      1. 14.1.1

        Hi Kiki, so glad you found something of value in my comment! Hmmm, in terms of what I did in terms of learning to accept, deal with and express my anger constructively…it’s a bit of a long story. I actually started on my journey because I noticed how anxious I was when I was first getting together with my partner. The happier I was with him, the more anxious I’d get! I was curious about that, and started to untangle the ways my childhood affected my emotional behavior and reactions, which involved a lot of journaling, talking it out, etc. One of my insights was that I was often anxious as a way of bypassing more primal emotions, like anger, fear and sadness — my anxiety was about “fixing” anger and fear instead of allowing myself to acknowledge it, experience it and then either do something about it, let it go or express it constructively.
        Anyway, I found meditation to help me a lot with this, as well as EFT. I was a skeptic about it, but I tried it and it works for me. Like you, I also exercise A LOT. I still journal a lot, because I find seemingly small chronic annoyances are really patterns about larger concerns, and it’s good for me to understand and pinpoint them so I can better communicate what I want. I also learn to distinguish between stuff like irritations (like, grrrr, he’s late again) and genuine anger (as when my boundaries feel violated or not respected). I tend to let go of irritations (because, well, my partner runs on pagan time and that will never change, so I must accept it) or make direct simple requests to address them, and then let it go. But for me, anger definitely needs to be communicated, or at least taken action upon.
        Also, I found Harville Hendrix’s book Getting the Love You Want and Gay and Katie Hendricks’ Conscious Loving to be really insightful on learning how to express difficult emotions in relationships. Reading these   gave me a nice “a-ha!” moment when it came to how I was suppressing my anger in previous relationships, and how that is as toxic of a pattern as nagging, criticism, etc. But I imagine these books are also helpful in relationships full of criticism, arguing, anger, etc.
        Good luck on your journey, Kiki! I appreciate how conscientious you are of this, particularly in front of your kids. I think they would benefit from seeing how to deal with difficult emotions in a relationship in a constructive way — I know I wish I could’ve seen that modeled for me! But it’s given me the opportunity to learn and grow now, so there are upsides 🙂

  15. 15

    I’m laughing at how even Evan assumes that women are flying off the handle about reading about women flying off the handle.   Most of us were just interested in the article and not upset about the suggestion that women can be more emotional babe!   LOL

  16. 16

    @ Sparkling Emerald 7:   You wrote “Am I lovely enough to give my opinion ? ”     Of course, my dear… you are MORE than lovely enough!  
    I had wondered something along the same lines as your theory: that women have been programmed by nature/nurture far more so than men to deal with crying babies, tantrum-throwing toddlers and grumpy teens.   So, the fact that we are better equipped than men to deal with children’s emotional outbursts might better prepare us to deal with men’s negative emotions better than they can deal with ours.  
    (By the by, SE, I know you’d mentioned that your divorce was going to be finalised in early 2014; has it happened yet?   If so… WOOOHOOO!   Congratulations!!   And if not… please do keep us posted so we can all celebrate when it happens).
    In any case, this study is bad news for me.   I’m an emotional woman.   No, I don’t fly off the handle at the slightest provocation but yeah, I do get pissed off at times.   And something I’ve noticed: my 5 foot, anorexic, penniless friend can throw all the fits she wants ~ she even hurled & smashed a plate against the kitchen wall, last year, during an argument with her husband ~ and men find it sweet and feel bad for her pain bc she seems tiny and helpless.   While I ~ tall and relatively-financially successful ~ get annoyed, men are scared and emasculated.    
    It seems like the anger of women who can be pitied, infantilised or dismissed is something men can handle.   But if a guy feels like you’re his equal or *gasp* even superior in any way, he will view your anger as a threat and as a challenge and will respond in kind.   Maybe I’m completely wrong; no doubt there are plenty of men here who’ll be happy to tell me how misguided I am. 🙂    But that’s what it feels like, to me.
    My takeaway is that men are fine with women’s anger as long as it’s a women who can be pitied, dismissed or infantilized: like a puppy yapping at their heels or a cloud of gnats to be swatted away.   But if you’re a woman whom the man feels is his equal in any way, your anger will be seen as a challenge and as a threat.  

    1. 16.1

      Thanks Henriette !
      Thanks for responding to what I said about the possible biological reasons women may be better equipped to deal with anger than men.   I guess I sidetracked my own post by going off on a tangent.
      Also, thanks for you insights as to how some women can pull off having a bad temper (think of those old movies where the man says to his pouting, and/or shouting woman “Darling, you are so beautiful when you’re mad”)
      I never thought about it that way, but I think you are right.   If a woman is tiny, or little girly, her anger can be easily dismissed or placated, if a woman is smart, strong or successful, any unhappy emotion she displays is seen as a dire threat.
      Guess that “little girl pout” works much better that ” I am woman hear me roar”, but the little girl pout only works when you are in your twenties,   to early thirties, tops.
      Oh, and I officially became divorced December of 2013.   YAY !     Feel free to celebrate with the alcoholic beverage or favorite comfort food of your choice !

      1. 16.1.1

        Dear Sparkling Emerald:   I wish you nothing but joy, success and lovely dudes in your new life as a single-again woman.     I am eating some spaghetti & meatballs in your honour 🙂

        1. SparklingEmerald

          Thank you Henriette – I had wine and ice cream last night with my room mate, but mentally, I pictured you with us.   So now I have to spend some extra time at the gym.

      2. 16.1.2
        Karmic Equation

        I’m 46. I can still pull off the girl pout.
        My anger is formidable, even at my 5 ft nothing height.
        I can pull it off because my anger is infrequent. Like once or twice a year. I get irritated more often than that, but true anger is infrequent with the right guy. Because with good communication or a good attitude most stuff can (and should) be overlooked. With 6yr bf, I got angry enough to yell at him maybe once or twice a year. Then in the last 6 months of the relationship it was like once a week. I was running at once a month with my reformed-player-ex. By the time I broke up with him it was like every other week. With my ex-husband of 11 years. We had one humongous fight in year 1 of our marriage and maybe 2 other yelling fights after that. We didn’t ever raise our voices discussing our divorce. We remain friends.

    2. 16.2

      Very interesting.   And I can definitely see where you’re coming from.   From a guys perspective.   From an early age we are told to keep our strength(physical) in check while dealing with women.   So we don’t really feel threatened when a girl pushes/shoves/slaps us in anger.   And we(most of us) don’t retaliate.
      But I can totally see that if you are a physically imposing woman(don’t think your success has anything to do with it) that might instinctively trigger something a bit more primal in us.

      1. 16.2.1

        Thanks for your thoughtful response, @Morris.   I can definitely see how a woman of almost 6 foot tall might elicit a different primal response than one who’s built like a 11 year-old child.   Just for the record, though, I have never pushed, slapped or shoved a man in anger (nor have I smashed any dishes against a wall).  

        1. Morris

          I should have been clearer about that.   I wasn’t, or at least didn’t mean to, implying that you ever pushed, slapped or shoved a man in anger… don’t hurt me.(j/k)

  17. 17

    Marymary   “The boyfriend nursed me through food poisoning so there went the mystique!”
    Your BF sounds like a keeper !!!!!
       My ex got grossed out when I had to go into physical therapy for non-injury frozen shoulder.     So much for “in sickness and in health”

  18. 18

    Clare said (#7.3):

    “I’ve found that with the majority of men, it is absolutely ok to express your feelings.   It just can’t be about blaming, criticising or making them wrong.”

    I would agree with this assessment.   People, men and women, generally don’t like to be the subject of finger-pointing.   If you must criticize, do it in a constructive and productive manner, and you’ll maximize the odds of getting the results you want.

    Sparkling Emerald said (#7.3.1):

    “Being in the same room and shedding a tear for your dying mother, or having a knitted up brow due to a work day from hell, that has NOTHING to do with HIM, and therefore is NOT AN ATTACK on him, can trigger a man’s anger.”

    This example you provided is rather extreme.   Has this happened to you personally?   I only ask because I don’t believe most men would feel anger if their wives showed emotion over a dying mother or because of a hard day at work.   Please take this constructively, but I’ve often seen you take on extreme interpretations of what people say on here, and you expend a great amount of energy stressing over whether women are bearing a disproportionate amount of blame for their own trials and tribulations in the dating process.   As you emerge from your divorce and get back into the world of dating, it’s in your best interest to understand that you can’t change men, you can only change yourself (as Evan always says) and that men really aren’t all that bad.   There are plenty of men out there who be elated to be with a woman who is successful in her career and is comfortable with sharing her emotions.   Finally, please to what you can to shed this extreme, black-and-white mindset on how men are.   Otherwise, I’m afraid you are going to make things unnecessarily hard on yourself.  

    Julia said (#7.3.1):

    “I find men’s anger to be a terrifying emotion because men are much more violent than women are. I won’t tolerate a man who flies off the handle again because its simply scary for me.”

    That’s an irrational fear.   Most men are not violent, and if they fly off the handle on occasion, they’re likely not going to harm you.

    Kiki said (#13):

    “But, as Evan says, men do not come both ways. He is far less ambitious and driven, and even though he had a few years of great professional success, he is right now unemployed. “

    Not true.   I’m ambitious, make very good money, and I am very happy whenever my girlfriend accomplishes something.   I know many men like this.

    Henriette said (#16):

    “My takeaway is that men are fine with women’s anger as long as it’s a women who can be pitied, dismissed or infantilized: like a puppy yapping at their heels or a cloud of gnats to be swatted away.   But if you’re a woman whom the man feels is his equal in any way, your anger will be seen as a challenge and as a threat.”

    It really is quite humorous to read women’s theories and explanations for why men don’t appreciate being around critical and unpleasant women.   The common theme, of course, is that it isn’t women’s fault and that this is really all due to the fact that men can’t handle a woman’s success.   Incredulous.   This reminds me of when women try to tell their girlfriends that men aren’t interested in them because they are intimidated by a woman who is successful.   Do you really think that most men give a flying flip if you’re more successful than them?   If you truly believe this, then a better question to ask yourselves is:   “Am I doing anything that makes him feel like a loser for not being as successful as I am?”   It’s well-documented how much women prefer that their man be more financially successful than them, so any true anxiety that a man may be feeling as a result of your accomplishments could be at least, in part, to how you are making them feel about it.   Of course, you ladies never want to take it to that level.

    Finally, do you really think that men don’t mind it when a woman acts like a yapping puppy or a cloud of knats?   That’s precisely the type of behavior that drives most men bat shit crazy.

    1. 18.1

      Thanks for your response Chance.
      I have experienced this AND all these articles coming out seem to confirm that men can NOT handle most “womanly” emotions,   many FEMALE coaches for women advise us to take our “girl talk” to our girlfriend and do NOT try and turn your husband into your girl friend.   I could link you to TONS of articles either advising women to tone their emotions around a man (not just anger or blame directed at them, but anything that has nothing to do with them)  
      And again THIS from an article that EMK posted.
      “From EMK’s FB page
      “Most male anger comes from feeling like a failure as a protector, provider, and sexual-lover. These acute vulnerabilities can be stimulated by the mere unhappiness or displeasure of his wife, even if her distress or negative states have nothing to do with him.” (quote from an article not EMK)”
      So it seems women are being told to tone it down in the emo department, from dating coaches, to scientific studies.   I actually think that is pretty good advice, but I do NOT go in for the “playing hard to get” routine where by a woman hides her POSITIVE emotions about a man.   (let’s them reveal themselves slowly perhaps, but doesn’t play all snotty and indifferent towards a guy she really likes in order to trick him into liking her)  
      Listen to men themselves: what do they call women’s emotions ?   (not talking about nagging and criticizing a man, who can blame ANYONE for not liking that) They call women’s emotions drama, baggage, bat-shit crazy, pshcyco, etc.
      I’m just going by the what the studies are reporting,   men don’t want our drama, our tears, our fears, etc.   They want a sweet sexy thing that makes them feel good (and hopefully she can cook).
      I like sex, I like cooking, I have GF’s for all that emo-girly stuff.   So give the guy what he wants most from me (sex and food) and let my girl tribe handle the rest.
      My next man can handle my fear of creepy crawlies (yes, I scream and hyperventilate at scorpions in the house and garden snakes in the yard).   He can handle the fact that I don’t do well dealing with auto mechanics and car dealers and he can feel manly handling that for me. He can have all my positive emotions.  
      But he doesn’t have to be my baggage handler.     What is so wrong with that ?

      1. 18.1.1

        Hi Sparkling Emerald,
        This will probably not change your opinion but you might want to read the rest of the article Evan quoted on his Facebook page. If I am not mistaken, it is directed at men and explains where their anger actually comes from and how they can deal with it. It does not tell women to tone down their emotions at all.
        You are certainly right that there is plenty advice out there that tells women not to bother men with their not-so-favourable emotions. Whether this is good advice is a completely different matter. I personally have always wondered why any woman would want to be in a relationship if she cannot be honest about her emotions with her partner and thus just has to play another role with him. I find even the idea exhausting.

      2. 18.1.2

        I think to state that men can’t or don’t want to handle a woman’s emotion and stating that all they want is a sexy little thing that can cook is painting an inaccurate picture of men.    Many men can handle a woman’s emotions — it just depends on how and when she engages him.   I think the key is understanding how you behave and what you need and how a man behaves.   So, many issues arise when we think that men and women see the world the same way and we don’t always see it the same.
        For example, if a woman is having a bad day and is complaining to a man.   The natural instinct for a man is to offer solutions — because that’s what they like to do.   Solve problems.   So, he thinks oh she is complaining to me because she wants me to solve this problem for her. But, what she really wants is just for him to listen.   That’s why, as the article stated, when men jump to providing a solution right away, women get annoyed.   They just want to vent.   On the other hand, men don’t get annoyed when women provide solutions because that’s what men think should be done in the first place.   So, one thing women can do, it simply say upfront — hey honey, I know you are going to want to solve this problem for me and I’m sure you’d come up with great ideas, but right now, I just need you to listen and just let me vent a little.   I just need you to provide a shoulder for me to cry on for a minute.   Now, the guy knows what you want from him and he has a better chance at succeeding.   Other times you can come to him and say, hey honey, I’ve got a problem, can you help me come up with ways to fix it.   Again, you’ve told him what you needs and he has the tools to be successful.   
        There are lots of good men who really want to make women happy.   The problem is that we don’t want to help men figure out how to make use happy.   We think they should just know and they don’t always just know.   Moreover, when we do tell them what makes us happy, we need to communicate it a way that resonates with them.      Might this extra effort feel annoying sometimes?   Probably.   Yet, the results are worth it.   
        One time, I got some bad news that made me really sad — which was unusual for me because I normally very upbeat.   My boyfriend at the time was what I perceived to be as really annoyed because I was upset.   He didn’t want me to be upset and told me so.   I, of course, got really angry at him for not wanting me to express my emotions and wanting me to be happy all the time.   In retrospect, I think what was happening is that he felt so bad that I was hurting and that he didn’t know what to do   and felt powerless so all he could think of was to tell me to stop feeling like that.      I think if I had said to him,   I know you don’t want to see me in pain because you don’t think you can help, but you can.   Just hug me until I calm down and can start thinking clearly.    You don’t have to say anything, just knowing that you are here for me will help me get over this.   Do I know for sure that approach would have worked?   No, but I sure know that getting angry with him didn’t make the situation better for either of us.     
        I suppose not sharing your emotions is certainly one way to address men not being able to handle women’s emotion, but I must say, it doesn’t seem like it will be especially satisfying.   And, you will soon complain that you can’t be whole and authentic self with him.
        One last thought, I think that people who tell women not to make their husbands or boyfriends their be all and end are correct.   Also, what they are saying is the your boyfriend/husband is not going to relate to you the way your girlfriends will and that’s correct too.   I LOVE shoes and handbags and really could have an hour long conversation about the new styles.    My girlfriends would be happy to talk about that stuff for hours on end as well.   If I tried to talk to my boyfriend about that he would pull his hair out.    Is he bad for that, absolutely not, and I don’t even want to talk to him about that.   That’s what I talk to my girlfriends about.
        I guess what I am saying is that it’s not helpful in the long run to oversimplify an insight about men to the extent that in doing so there is actually a undercurrent of criticism and almost disdain for men.    Good men — and there are a lot of them — want to love women, they want to help women, they want to be our heroes.      It is our choice first and foremost to pick and good man and then decide if we want to make it   easy or hard for him to love us.   

    2. 18.2

      I agree, @Chance, that men (and women) do not like being around women (or men) who are critical and unpleasant.     However, this does not explain to me why some men accept horrible behaviour from certain women (I believe that hurling dinnerware against a wall is unacceptable from anyone, of any size, sex or income) and not others.   We’ve all read about the crazy-but-hot theory, and that might be one explanation.   My own theory, based personal experience (which is anecdotal rather than based on a statistically significant sample size), it’s about men accepting the unacceptable from women they feel are somehow beneath them.  
      I’ve never had a boyfriend who had as much money and I am proud of the hard work they accomplish, no matter the compensation.   But listen to this 100% true story:   I have a friend who earns mid-$60s.   She wed a guy who earned high-$300s and constantly attacked him for being an under-achiever, a slacker, not pushing himself hard enough.     He redoubled his efforts and now spends almost all his waking hours at the office and has developed a heart murmur, but is proud to now be earning more than $700K.   He claims to be thrilled that she pushed him to become the provider and executive she knew he could be.  
      I asked, what if she had been making the same demands, but earned $500K, herself?   He immediately began explaining that it would have been totally different, she’d   have been a demanding b*tch to insist that he earn more.       But since, in fact, she earned so little, he was thrilled to buckle down and push himself to become a better provider.    Yeah: one guy, one woman, one case does not necessarily = a full-blown trend, but it certainly gave me pause for thought and gave me more fodder for the theory I’d been formulating.
      No, I don’t think a man gives a rat’s behind whether a woman is more successful than he when he asks her out.   However, I do think that, once in a relationship, the more powerful the woman, the less leeway she’s given to behave like a demanding diva.
      Yes, I think men loathe women acting like yapping puppies or clouds of gnats.   However, I believe insects, pups and furious little (in stature, in finances, in education, whatever) women do not bring out the insecurities and rage in men like formidable women can.

      1. 18.2.1
        Karmic Equation


        “…it’s about men accepting the unacceptable from women they feel are somehow beneath them.”

        How are you defining “beneath them [him]”? Lower income? Men don’t care about income, unless they’re gold-diggers or otherwise financially strapped themselves. YOU may think his wife is “beneath him” because she earns less, but HE obviously doesn’t think that way.

        BTW is his wife hot? Does she give great head? Is she great in the sack? Does she give great back rubs? Maybe he’s a foot fetishist and her feet are godly to him. Perhaps he’s a closet masochist and loves her because she’s a dominant (This may be closest to the truth given your anecdote). The point is, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Some things you just never know. And some things he might not ever tell you (particularly if he’s a fetishist).

        I had the discussion about money with one of dates. I’m one of those women who gets turned off rather than on if a man lists a 6-figure salary. He countered he thinks it’s a turn off when women list their incomes, whatever it may be. But the higher it is, the more turned off he gets.

        If YOU are a high-earning, tall/big woman, it may salve your ego to think that men are intimidated by such women and therefore avoid or leave you.

        But from the tone of the sentence I quoted above, the mindset that is behind the belief someone is beneath someone else simply because of earning power is, how shall I say it, kind of “snooty”. Men don’t like stuck up   women. Not sure if that is what you are, but if you think YOU’re a better woman than someone else simply because you earn more money, you’re dead wrong.

        1. Henriette

          @Karmic   – Please re-read my posts.   As stated, ” women THEY feel are somehow beneath THEM. ”   I never once refer to what I may or may not believe makes one person beneath another.    
          Men don’t like defensive women who jump to negative conclusions without considering the facts.   I’m not sure if that’s what you are, but if you think that you can accuse me stating something that I did not just because you didn’t bother to read carefully,   you’re dead wrong.

        2. Kiki

          Karmic, Henriette
          I side with  Henriette on this one.   I am a high earning tall woman, and I have the same impression that she has, inspite of the fact that men  are not intimidated by me, do not avoid or leave me :-).
          I do not belive that men are indifferent to the income that women make. In my opinion, the alfas hate it, and the betas have a more balanced view – they appreciate it most of the time, but, in an ideal world, would prefer that they make more money.
          The smart approach a woman can take is of course not to flaunt her high income in front of men (but also in front of women). It feels kind of unfair to have to hide it, but a little [fake :-)] modesty goes a long way.

        3. Kiki

          I gave it some more thought.
          What I think Henriette is getting at, is that men take crap from feminine women whom they see as not competing, but rather as cooperating for them.   The minute he senses competition, which he equals to masculinity, he is turned off.
          How about that?

      2. 18.2.2

        Why would anyone flaunt their high income in front of other people and expect them to like it? Surely that is just bad manners?
        There is a world of difference between being happy about your achievements in a sincere and even – dare I say – humble way, and flaunting your money and titles in someone else’s face.
        I really have to say that even the alpha men I have dated have been very happy about women earning decent salaries, as it means a more comfortable lifestyle financially – unless they were pretty insecure to begin with.   And that insecurity is not usually limited to how much money other people make.

        1. Kiki

          I know a lot of men who drive super expensive cars, wear very expensive watches, and advertise their wealth as a means to attract women.   I find it more difficult to find the equivalent example with women trying to attract men this way even though I am sure they exist. Is this bad manners? Is it worse manners for a woman than it is for a man? Is it more effective for a man than it is for a woman?

  19. 19

    So what am I to take from all this blog post, comments 7 scientific studies?
    All I get is that when my mom died 2 weeks ago and I’ve gotten a raise and promotion, I should not share it with my significant other (if I have one), because it might emasculate him.   And if I do chose to share any major life events with him, I can only do so as long as I do it calmly and without emotion.   Is that right?   Is that what y’all are trying to convey?
    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…a man can’t have it every which way it wants it.   Hey, wait…I think Evan says if a man wants it on his terms only, walk away.   How is this a woman remaining calm and emotionless during an argument not a guy having it his own way?   How is it different?
    If that’s what a guy wants…me to not express my emotions and be calm and passionless, then okay…he should get that…all the time…even in bed.
    Why should men determine when it is appropriate for a women to be passionate on a subject?

    1. 19.1
      Karmic Equation


      Take a deep breath. This is the way I compartmentalize 🙂

      1) During dating, i.e., you’re a free agent, and the man (or men) you’re dating is not your boyfriend, you don’t need to talk about your accomplishments at all. Talking about them feeds your own ego. And your accomplishments isn’t going to make you more girl-friend-worthy in HIS eyes, so why sabotage yourself on so many levels?

      2) In a relationship, i.e., you’re clearly exclusive and refer to each other as bf and gf, then you can talk about accomplishments. But you should be sensitive about how he feels about how your accomplishment compares to his. For example, if he’s stuck in a dead-end job and you get a raise or promotion, that’s probably going to make him feel bad about his own circumstances. No good will come of your talking about that raise or promotion. However if he IS in a good place in his own career, he shouldn’t have any problem being happy for you. Just don’t expect him to be effusively happy. A little happy, somewhat happy, even mostly neutral. All good. But if he’s ANGRY about it, then you need to figure out if that is a one-time thing or something more pervasive and then decide if it’s a deal breaker. If it ISN’T a deal breaker, to avoid future bad feelings, don’t talk about your accomplishments with him. You have plenty of other people you can share your good fortune with.

      The problem, as I see it, with most women’s thinking about men they’re in relationships with is that the man “should” be their best friend — sorry. That is stupid. If we agree that men are typically the top priority in most women’s lives, and women like to “talk” — a lot — about important things… The reality is we can’t talk ABOUT our man WITH our man, we need a different best friend to discuss our man-problems with!

      So for women, if you can get rid of the idea that your S.O. “must” be your best friend, you will be a lot happier.

      Now, the funny part is that I think it’s the OPPOSITE for men. We women CAN be our man’s best friend. Because men don’t offer empathy and sympathy to other men. So OUR man looks to US for that empathy and sympathy, and we can indeed become HIS best friend.

      It’s been like that through ALL of my relationships. My bfs (and husband) all eventually eschewed their guy friends and preferred spending time with me precisely because I gave him the sympathy and empathy he lacked from his male friends. That said, a man needs his male friends the same way you need your best friend…so that he can talk about you (if need be) with someone who can empathize.   Usually that’s another man. So encourage his male friendships instead of being threatened by them. You benefit in MULTIPLE ways if you’re a great gf. When his buds are bitching about their drama-full gfs, he can count his blessing that YOU’RE not like them. He may not brag about you, but he will appreciate you more.

      I used to encourage my hubby (now ex) to go clubbing with his bachelor buds. I trusted him completely and felt sorry for his friends, cuz they weren’t as attractive as my hubby and needed him to act as chick-magnet for them. lol. And he came home more than once exclaiming “I am SOOO glad I’m married to you!”

      1. 19.1.1

        Why would you want to be in a relationship with someone that you have to walk on eggshells with?    
        Since you are no longer married it does not appear that your method worked very well,

        1. Karmic Equation

          When did I ever say I was walking on eggshells? And if that’s what you got out of my post, then you’re just looking for ways to make men wrong. That was totally NOT the intention of my post.

      2. 19.1.2

        Karmic equation – I have no idea how what you are saying has anything to do with my post, or what I need to take a deep breath for?   Were you under some impression that I was upset or angry?   How did you deduce that? I was making a few comments, and asking a few questions…no more, no less.    There was appropriate puncuation and everything, by which I mean no ALL CAPS or excessive use of !!!! or anything to indicate emotion or anger.   I think you are reading way too much into my comments and questions.
        After reading your post what struck me was — I fail to see how being excited at getting a raise and promotion or upset and maybe even crying because your   mother just died in anyway equates to being a drama queen.   Aren’t those, in fact, normal human emotions to have in both situations, whether you are male or female?
        And how many relationships have you been in for heaven’s sake?   A lot of your posts say “ALL my relationships.” (The all caps emphasis is yours.)   Are we talking three or four, or a stastically significant number here?   I can’t decide if you go through men like most people go through kleenex during allergy season, or if you keep saying that to bolster whatever proposition   you happen to be espousing at the time.

        1. Karmic Equation

          “Are we talking three or four, or a stastically significant number here?”
          I guess you could say I go through men like furniture…What would you consider statistically significant anyway?   🙂 —
          4 yrs – 8 mos – 11 yrs – 6 yrs – 1 yr; interspersed with 2 ONS in my 20’s; 1 ONS when I was 39 which turned into the 6yr relationship. Currently in a 3-mo casual relationship which reached a small milestone with a “I really really like you” conversation initiated by him, just yesterday. My bff is a straight male and we’ve been friends for over 27 years. But that probably doesn’t count since I haven’t “gone through” him. However it is a relationship.
          I obviously misread your questions as indicating confusion. I didn’t realize they were rhetorical and you were venting.

  20. 20

    Evan question what if the man like in my situation continues topush certain buttons. For instance he is always hrs late, he always says he’ll do something and 80 percent of the time he’ll do it and the other 10 percent if he does it he’ll do it half way.He borrowed money from me and when it was time to pay it back he didn’t give it all to me and he said if I’m his girlfriend I shouldn’t be mad.
    I get frustrated and I put him out the house and the next week he’s back begging and saying he loves me, then a day or so later he’ll say were going to go to the movies on the weekend the weekend would come and he would stay out late with friends. I get pissed and cry and a few times I have blew up in front of his friends, am I justified to be angry with him or should I calm down and roll with the punches?

    1. 20.1

      Maybe he’s confused by your math skills. 😉

    2. 20.2
      Karmic Equation

      Brenda. You need to break up with your dude. He’s a terrible boyfriend and he’s using you.
      “No man is worth your tears, and the man who is won’t make you cry.”

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